Sam thank you very very much for your kind introduction.

Can I also add my acknowledgement of country.

It is a great pleasure to be here to launch the Australian Council for International Development’s (ACFID) Electorate Snapshots here today.

Can I also acknowledge my parliamentary colleagues who are here, Andrew Broad the member for Mallee who will be speaking, my other parliamentary colleagues, in particular the Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Claire Moore, ACFID executives, members and special guests, Deputy Secretary Ewen McDonald, First Assistant Secretaries Blair Exell and Robert Tranter and other representatives here from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

As we all know, the challenges of international development are complex and require strong partnerships between government, Non-government organisations and business.

However, the most valuable and critical partner in building a strong and prosperous region is the Australian people.

The ACFID 2017 Electorate Snapshots show the generosity of Australians to lend a helping hand wherever it’s needed.

It is good to see the information, Sam, that was in the Snapshots and I hope that this can be expanded in the work that ACFID and the sector can do with diaspora communities where Australians do work, where the Australian Government gives aid, where NGOs do their work and most especially where our volunteers operate.

And we know that this assistance is given in many different ways, it’s given in the valuable time that our volunteers give, it’s done through the undertaking of school exchanges, or through direct financial contributions.

Can I particularly pay tribute to the work that our volunteers abroad do.
One of the privileges of travelling overseas and visiting many of the areas where NGOs and Australian Aid is given is meeting the volunteers, because they are the face of Australia, they are our ambassadors.

More importantly in the work that they do they are an integral part of the framework of the government which we are trying to assist and they really are a very valuable source of information for us.

I have also in my many travels had the opportunity to see where our development assistance and the work that we do particularly with NGOs is contributing first hand, and of course this time last year was the strongest cyclone which ever hit, making landfall in the Pacific, and of course it devastated Fiji and the collective response from the Australian government and the generosity of the Australian people was swift and very effective.

Together we are working to help rebuild Fiji and I am looking forward next week, to going to Fiji as we mark the first anniversary of this devastating event.

The generosity of the Australian people is remarkable and I would encourage it.

As you look across the different electorates, the Snapshots I think are very useful but they still show that there is more work to be done, but it is a very good starting point.

We do need to work better and closer together because we do need to ensure, particularly in the changing political paradigm, that the Australian public understand not only what we are doing but why we are doing it and more importantly why it has a direct benefit for Australia.

And so therefore, the contributions from the Australian public to international development, they not only help our regional partners, most especially in the Indo-Pacific area, but they aid towards democratic processes, they ensure that countries can be better governed, but more importantly that they respect the rule of law.

And we know as the Defence White Paper told us that Australia’s immediate neighbourhood is our highest strategic priority after the defence of Australia.

And so given all this, I encourage my parliamentary colleagues to use the ACFID Electorate Snapshots to start a conversation, or to continue a conservation, with their constituents about the vital role that Australians play in making our country and our region a safer and more prosperous place to live.

Finally, can I thank you Sam, can I thank all the team at ACFID for providing us with this useful catalyst to discuss very very important issues.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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